Create nature highways and byways

Activity
Hedgehog in garden
1-2 hours
Winter
Not too tricky

Many of our garden creatures need to move about freely between gardens. Hedgehogs can walk a mile or more a night looking for food and a mate. You can help wildlife by creating safe corridors from your garden to the one next door. This is a great activity to do with your neighbours to connect your gardens. You can create highways and byways whenever you like, but it is usually easiest in winter when there are fewer leaves on the trees and shrubs.

Hedgehog in garden

Step-by-step guide

Create nature highways and byways video screenshot
1

Think like a hedgehog or frog! Looking at your space, if you were a hedgehog or a frog, how easy would it be to make your way around the garden and in and out of it? How could you make access easier?

 

2

Add gaps at the base of your wooden fences. Before you start, check that your neighbour is comfortable, and make sure any gaps won’t allow pets to escape. It’s also important to not create gaps that will lead wildlife onto busy roads.

Create as many gaps as you want, perhaps one every few metres.

If you’re cutting a hole in a wooden fence at ground level, draw the shape you want with a pencil. An arch is the easiest shape to cut. Make it no more about 15cm wide x 13cm high for larger creatures like hedgehogs, or as little as 8cm wide x 6 cm high for frogs and toads.

Drill a hole inside your shape with a wood drill bit (the kind used for making circular holes). Then poke the jigsaw or saw blade through your hole to then cut out the hole to your line. Allow long grasses or other herbaceous plants to grow next to the gap.

3

Let your lawn near access holes grow longer. Voles, shrews, frogs, toads, beetles and hedgehogs like to move through long grasses rather than out in the open.

See Give your mower a rest for steps on how to create a spring or summer meadow with paths for wildlife.

step 4 grass paths RESIZED.jpg

4

Add a climbing plant. If you have bare fences or garden walls, adding a climber will act like a ladder for some creatures.

See Cloak your walls with climbers to see the best plants for your house wall, garden wall, fence or pergola.

5

Plant trees and shrubs. If you have space, a line of trees or shrubs against boundaries can provide aerial corridors for wildlife. Even better, turn a fence into a hedge. They are safe corridors, can be full of seeds and berries, and are also used for nesting.

6

Now enjoy watching wildlife use their new routes into and out of your garden, and knowing that many more creatures are doing the same at night.

What you will need

  • Wire cutters
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Saw or jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Wood drill bit
  • Spade
  • Plants and/or hedges